Mariam, My First and Forever Friend
November 21 2023
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Editor's Note: The following testimony was first posted on Bahaa's Facebook page on Nov. 8, 2023. It has been translated and republished with permission. 

In the early days of my college life, I met a girl named Mariam. She was a beautiful girl, alone in Gaza pursuing a university degree. Despite her quiet demeanor, she was ambitious and had an extraordinary ability to comfort those around her in an unparalleled way. She was the one who introduced me to the concept of "first time," the idea that first-time experiences are always challenging to surpass or overcome. And indeed, she became the first friend I allowed myself to rely on.

One day, I suggested to her that we should do something new — wandering the streets of a city that felt foreign to us. This idea came to me after I spent all my money on cigarettes, a habit that I had recently picked up. As a proud man, I couldn't bring myself to accept money from a girl, no matter how close we were. Exhausted from our long journey on foot, she quickly realized the truth when I refused to get into a cab. After declining to take her money, she scolded me sharply, marking the first time a girl had ever cursed at me.

Mariam was the first girl with whom I openly shared my religious views. Despite her initial apprehension about my beliefs, she calmly expressed her thoughts, even laughing at the number of lectures and books I had consumed on the subject.

When I experienced the sensation of falling in love for the first time, I immediately confided in Mariam. She listened and helped me make sense of those overwhelming, overflowing emotions. She assured me that it was "true love" and encouraged me to embrace this experience, accept the bitter with the sweet, and share our story with everyone.

However, things changed when Mariam got engaged. And because we live in a society that disapproves of friendships like ours, she tearfully told me that we should part ways as our friendship would be inappropriate now that she was engaged. She promised she keep in touch occasionally, and that she would pray for me, despite my lack of faith. True to her word, we went our separate ways, and Mariam transferred to another university to pursue a different major.

Mariam built a beautiful and loving family, dedicating all her care to them away from the hustle and bustle. She would occasionally send me her greetings through people.

The pilot who bombed Mariam's house yesterday was unaware of the fact that she was the inventor of the "first time." He didn’t realize that the bomb that would take her life was the "first time" someone tried to kill her. I am certain that Mariam will come to tell me about her "first time" experiencing immortality, with the same serene calmness she always exhibited.

She was Mariam. She is Mariam. And she always will be.

This testimony was translated into English by Aya Jayyousi.
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